Parents and caregivers need be aware of three potential hazards associated with windows: window falls, lead paint and window cords.
Every year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in falls from windows alone, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Luckily, many accidents involving windows can be prevented.
Here are a few safety tips from the experts.
To help prevent tragic window falls from occurring, the CPSC recommends that the following actions be taken:
- Install window guards to prevent children from falling out of windows. Make sure they are properly installed; there should be no more than four inches between the bars of the window guard.
- Never depend on window screens alone to keep children from falling out of windows.
- If you use window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the US Department of Urban Housing estimates that roughly 38 million homes still contain lead paint. Old windows painted with lead paint can produce lead dust and lead paint chips, a potential cause of lead poisoning. The NSC offers a dust kit that can be ordered through its Web site, http://www.nsc.org/issues/lead, or its toll-free hotline at 1-866-528-3187. NSC also offers these tips:
- Maintain the paint in your home and clean up any lead dust. When cleaning lead-contaminated dust, wiping should be done from left to right (or vise-versa), or from the top of a wall downwards.
- Test the drinking water at your faucets to ensure it does not contain a hazardous level of lead. Call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 for more information.
- Eat right. The amount of lead the human body retains can be reduced if your child's diet includes plenty of foods that contain iron, calcium and zinc.
- Cover bare soil play areas. You should ensure your child avoids playing in bare soil areas unless you know they are lead free. Often, bare soil will contain some lead from deteriorated exterior paint.
According to information provided by the CPSC, since 1991, more than 175 infants and young children have died from accidental window cord strangulations. Window coverings made before 2001 don't have cord-safety features that are built into today's products. The Window Covering Safety Council urges parents to install cordless window coverings in children's bedrooms and play areas or retrofit mini blinds and pleated shades made before 2001. WCSC distributes free looped-cord retrofit kits that can be ordered online at http://www.windowcoverings.org or by phoning WCSC at 1-800-506-4636. In addition, WCSC recommends the following window-cord safety rules:
- Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.
- Keep all window pull cords and inner life cords out of the reach of children. Make sure that tasseled pull cords are short, that continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall, and that cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit movement of inner lift cords.
- Lock cords into position whenever horizontal blinds or shades are lowered, including when they come to rest on a windowsill.
- Consider installing cordless window coverings in children's bedrooms and play areas.
- Replace window blinds, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with today's safer products or retrofit them with cord-retrofit devices.